I recently received a somewhat heartbreaking email from a wife who told me that her marriage was over and it was all her fault. She had cheated on her husband, very briefly, with her boss. She said that she really did not know what she was thinking at the time. She had always been relatively happy in her marriage but she never really thought that her actions were going to come back to haunt her. She honestly believed that it would not change things in her marriage as she felt sure that her husband would not find out.
However, her bosses’ wife had found out about the affair and had promptly called this woman’s husband, who of course, was beyond devastated and furious. Even though the wife tried to explain that she still loved the husband and wanted to save the marriage, the husband was not receptive. This was a deal breaker to him and he left the home a few days later. At this point, she did not know when or if he was going to file for divorce. But, she knew for certain that she wanted her husband and her marriage back but she did not know how to go about this. Every time she tried to initiate contact with the husband he only became angrier with her. She asked me what was the best course of action for her to take. I will share what I told her in the following article.
Understanding Why She Cheated And What This Meant For The Marriage: Before the wife took any action whatsoever, I wanted for her to deeply and fully examine what lead up to her cheating. I know that she insisted (and still felt) that there was really nothing wrong with her marriage and she was “caught up” in the excitement on a business trip. But honestly, happily married women typically don’t cheat out of the blue. I felt very sure that there was some issues that she was unwilling or not able to see.
When I asked her to describe what she saw in her boss, she reluctantly told me that he was “strong, exciting, powerful, and in control.” I asked her if these were qualities that she perceived that her husband lacked and, after a while, she had to admit to me that perhaps I had a point. After a lot of conversations back and forth, the wife finally disclosed that she got to do a lot of “exciting” and “important” things at work and that the quiet life at home sometimes seemed predictable and boring in comparison.
This was a huge break through and it was important because she needed to look at this honestly to determine if she was going to be able to add some excitement to her married life so that she is receiving this type of fulfillment at home. I felt that this was vital. It was not at all fair to ask her husband to give this one more try if she was only going to cheat on him again or feel unfulfilled in the future. She needed to be clear on how, and if, she could fix this before she brought the husband back into this, as none of this was his fault.
The wife was very sincere and convincing that she was willing to do “whatever it took” to get her marriage back to a strong place. And, she assured me that, with some work, she could see no reason why she could not see her husband as strong, decisive, and exciting. She was also willing to get another job, which I felt was vital. It was not fair to ask the husband to tolerate the wife seeing the man that she cheated with every day.
Getting A Husband To Believe That You Are Truly Sorry About The Cheating And Would Not Do It Again: At this point, the husband only became angry and distant every time the wife attempted to approach him or to reach out to him. I told her that it was vital that she had patience. It was important that she could see this from her husband’s perspective. I asked her to imagine if it were him who cheated. Would she be able just to forgive and move on a few weeks later? Of course she wouldn’t. Yet, this was the same request that she was making.
I told her that the next time she talked to her husband, she should tell him that she understood and deserved his reluctance and that she wasn’t going to force herself on him right now because she understood that he needed time and space. However, there was nothing wrong with making it clear what was in her heart – that she was willing to do whatever it took to make this right and that the marriage, and him, were the most important things to her and that she was going to work tirelessly to restore the trust.
It was unrealistic to think that he was going to just accept this immediately. It was just going to take some time. What her real goal should have been was to just hang in there and show him that she was sincere with her patience and her presence. Because over time, he would hopefully eventually come to see that she was sincere because she still was there and still wanted a chance to work things out. The idea was that eventually the husband would have to admit that, if she did not love him and was not putting the marriage first, she would not still be there – sincere, and ready, willing and able to do the work needed to save this marriage when he was ready to do so.
The whole idea is to show him that she sincerely meant and did exactly what she said that she would. Over time, this would begin to show the husband that he could believe, and trust in, what she was saying and the claims that she was making.